To stand by and allow that to happen, in absence of a direct and unambiguous command from God, isn't thinkable, and I see no such command anywhere in the Scripture or the Fathers.
Ok – before this gets too much further out of hand it would appear that I need to clarify some of the points that I have been trying to make (albeit unsuccessfully). Somehow the claims that I have been attempting to get Alexander to address and his misconstrued comments to me have somehow been conflated with the end result a complete distortion of my position.
At no point in this discussion have I suggested that without direct and unambiguous command from God is war or self-defence is a decision that humans may not make
; bearing in mind, however, that I contend that such a decision is less that perfect; it is the result of our fallen condition; it is a sin.
In my horribly convoluted way, I have been trying to address a couple of points that Alexander made in defence of his just war theory: the most important one being;Well, if war is always unjust, dear Gebre Menfes Kidus, you are contradicting both Bible and Tradition, as:
1) You can't explain why God in the OT ordered to the Jews to make war.
Again, I reiterate, at no point have I said that humans mustn’t
go to war to defend people against oppression, invasion, etc without direct and unambiguous command from God
and my own tangented reply to Alexander probably didn't make that clear. However, I simply don’t believe that such actions can be called “just” in the true sense of the word; it is more an understandable decision of a lesser evil.
I repeat: I don't really believe in a just war theory. Justifying war seems to be an attempt at saying it’s something good when it is sinful and wouldn't happen in a perfect world. But we don't live in a perfect world and sometimes we are between a rock and a hard place and we have to choose a path that is sinful, but less sinful than doing nothing.
I don’t believe that this is a clear cut issue, as Alexander's point would suggest, of looking to God’s intervention in other arenas and concluding that because of the way he acted in the OT or in the case of Constantine that he therefore is assumed to be in favour of war as a solution in all other human squabbles. As far as I can tell, that we do go to war and take human life is not ignored as sinless by the Church.
Alexander wrote just war is when your nation, your family, your friends are endangered by the violence of another attacking nation. If one would try to kill your parents, your brothers and sisters, your children or your best friends, wouldn't you try and defend them? Wouldn't you put your life in danger to stop the violence from outside, even if that would mean to use a weapon? or would you better let them be killed, or enslaved under a dictatorship? The answer is yours, I can't tell you what you have to think, but my answer is that self-defence against violence is legitimate even in Orthodoxy.
I responded that I agree that one would act in such a situation; making the point that the acting would still be sin if it resulted in violence, and the taking of human life. But that wasn't really my point, because I am more interested in the idea that Alexander seems to have that we can justify our actions from the OT/Constantine situations where God seems to have made clear his support of such endeavours for the sake of His People and His Church (Old and New Testament) and then assume it applies to other human conflicts. Again, I make the observation that if God did command the genocide of the enemies of the Jews, or the Roman forces opposing Constantine (and I have no reason to doubt this) this certainly hasn't given us carte blanc permission to go to war against our enemies when Christ commands us to love them. Unless I'm missing something, I can't see how committing violence against our enemies, no matter what the circumstances, equates to love. Again without direct and unambiguous command from God
we have to approach war with all humility, realising that we are going to break Christ’s commandment; thus sinning.
As I said, blood on the hands, no matter if it is killing in war, killing in self defence, or accidental manslaughter are all considered sinful acts. St Basil the Great, counselled that someone who killed during a war was excommunicated for a period of three years. Why would this happen if there was no sin involved in the act?
So while I'm not saying that it might not be humanly necessary to react to defend one's people against attack, to take action against an agressor or to fight to end oppression it is still the imperfect action of an imperfect being. When the voice of God is absent, we cannot simply decide that any examples of God intervening or approving of militant action to ensure the survival of His People and His Church (Old and New Testament Israel) by eliminating a: the Cananites in the OT and b: the opposing Roman forces in the fourth Century, is a sign of His approval of violence in each and every human squabble.
I hope this makes my position clear.